Maggie Q charmed everyone at The CW's 2010 Upfront presentation with her sweet, funny introduction of her first TV series, "Nikita."
At the time, Q had appeared in mostly action films, and rarely in a lead role. She was new to TV, and new to being the center of attention in a room full of executives, advertisers and oh-so-many young, gorgeous stars.
"They threw me on stage and I didn't know what the hell to do or what to say in this room full of very serious people, you know," she said during a recent phone interview. "Not only had I never done TV; I'd just never even been around that."
Flash forward to the present: For three seasons, Q had led a group of actors that includes Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca and Aaron Stanford while kicking butt as rogue assassin-turned-world saver Nikita Mears. She's doing press for the action series' final six episodes, a mini-season Q and creator Craig Silverstein have been granted "because our fans have been so wonderful," she said. It's a rare chance for a perpetually endangered series to wrap up its story.
"The fact that we kind of kept going and going and we're able to end it is great," Q said. "A lot of times you don't get that opportunity.
"OK, maybe six [episodes] wasn't ideal; maybe 13 would have given us a little more story. But with six you don't have the fat on any episode. You just go for it and every single one is a movie. So we are going out with a bang big time on this show."
The final season, debuting at 7 p.m. Friday on The CW, kicks off about three months after the U.S. government launched a worldwide manhunt for Nikita, who has been framed for the assassination of the president. She's on the run, purposefully separated from the fellow spies who have become her family, as well as her fiance, Michael (West).
Nikita's new family will suffer this season even before what she teases is an epic finale Dec. 27. "There's gonna be some loss this season that is really gonna kill people who love the show," she said.
Q, who shot the film "Divergent" in Chicago this summer, returned to the city this week to film an indie movie called "Broken Benches" with John Leguizamo. It's a small role, she said, which is just fine with her.
"I've been a main person for four years," she said last week from Los Angeles, where she was hiking with her dog, Caesar. "I'd like to take a little break from that."
That doesn't mean she isn't already missing her "Nikita" family. Likening her "Nikita" experience to having a "really great meal," she says she is satisfied with what cast and crew have accomplished.
"It's exactly like that. ‘Are you missing it? Do you want it back?' ‘No, I don't. I've had this really great meal and I'm full and totally satisfied and happy to wrap it up and walk away at this time,'" she said. "I think it's great timing."
Q talked more about the final episodes, why Nikita and Michael can't communicate and what we can expect from Nikita's nemesis, Amanda.
You have six episodes to wrap Nikita's story up. Did it make things more difficult or were you just happy to have six episodes?
Well, both. It was weird because in the beginning we thought, "Great, six." And there's no sort of filler episodes. There are no bottle episodes. We could just go for it. We're just going to write six little movies and it'll be all good. Then you start getting into the logistics of it and you realize that writing six is probably the hardest thing you could do when you're wrapping up a show.
It can be explosive and exciting but it is really, really hard to wrap up everything that you've built in three years in six episodes. So 13 would have been easier but I think we're gonna go out with a bang. I'm really happy with what we've done.
It was a fun process sort of getting the six and going, "OK, how do we make this work?" And it was actually a lot harder than we imagined.
But you're happy with what's going on with what you ended up with?
Yeah. I think we really brought it. I think we did what we felt we needed to do in the time and I also think that the audiences who do love the show are going to be satisfied. And that matters a lot to us.
As somebody who's watched it from the very beginning I was sad you weren't sticking around but happy you get to end it properly.
Absolutely. You bring up a good point and I was just saying to someone that you don't often get that gift of, "OK, here is what we're gonna do. We're gonna go again but this is where it's gonna end."
Not only did I have the time on the hiatus—well, I was doing a movie—but the time to emotionally sort of detach and go, "Oh, OK. So we're ending her here. So this is where we can go. This is how we're gonna get there." Because that's a bit of time. And I was able to kind of get that sort of mental emotional block out of the way because I knew where we were going and there was a plan for it. And I think that really, really helps to wrap up the show and just feel really happy and good about it.